Why the Sound of Nails on Chalkboard makes us cringe?

July 01, 2018
For a moment, think about your nails scratching the surface of a chalkboard. That isn’t something pleasurable, is it? Well, folks, that sound is repelling not only to you but every human to have ever walked this earth. The shrill sends shivers up your spine. Ever wondered why it does so?

We have the answer.

Contrary to popular belief, the hate-inducing nature of the sound is not due to the high frequency of the sound. In experiments, scientists discovered that when the high frequencies were removed, the ratings of the listeners on the basis of unpleasantness did not change. It changed only when the middle and low frequencies were removed.

Our ear amplifies sounds the most when it’s between 2000 to 4000 Hz. This particular cringe-worthy sound happens to fall within this range. In a nutshell, this amplification of the sound waves makes our body convulse.

However, people collectively have grown to hate this sound so much that we all have become conditioned. When, in the experiments, the listeners were told of the source of the sound, they gave a negative response. But when they were not told about its nature, it was noticed that they gave a favourable feedback. 

So ultimately we can conclude that both amplification of this particular sound and our human psychology of being conditioned to feel averse to it are factors which encourage us to stay away from nails scratching on chalkboard. Fortunately for all of humankind, we rarely find chalkboards anymore! 

Post Written By - Bahana Saikia

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